Denmark’s Royal Hunt have been around quite a few years now. So have I for that matter. I first found them back when Magna Carta Records signed them and released “Paradox.” The label then reissued the previous album “Moving Target.” Both featured American singer DC Cooper and both albums walked the line between power metal and prog metal extremely well.
Right after that, Cooper left Royal Hunt and was replaced by John West. The albums were good but not great. Then West left and was replaced by Mark Boals, and at that point I had lost interest. Cooper returned in 2011 for the strong “Show Me How To Live” album and has been in the band since. The two releases after that felt like the band had found their style once again.
They are back with “Cast in Stone” and the easiest way to put it is, if you liked what you’ve heard before, you will like this one. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” Part of me though wishes for something even bigger. “Cast in Stone” has the big choruses and kick ass rhythms that I’ve come to expect from Royal Hunt but what about a massive epic?
The band has flirted with the ten minute epic in the past but seem more comfortable keeping things between 5-7 minutes. Sure length isn’t everything but maybe it would allow the band to expand their sound more. Cooper can still sing and yes Andre Andersen can write a catchy melody but what about something bigger and even DARKER? “Fistful of Misery” really doesn’t have enough MISERY and “A Million Ways to Die” is more cliche than anything else.
The production still is more mid-range heavy which is something they have always had. Personally, thickening up the bottom end would be another area that I’d find interesting. Lyrically, things are still a tad cheesy. “Save Me II” is the standard male/female duet number that turns me off. Up to that point even if the lyrics aren’t great, Cooper is such a great vocalist that he can save almost any lyric.
So yes, “Cast in Stone” is a mixed bag for me. Royal Hunt fans will enjoy the album. Is it as amazing as “Paradox”? I don’t think so. Heck, I even loved “The Mission” and it’s not on par with that. But it does fit well with the last few albums that the band have released. Again, it ain’t broke…
Label: Northpoint Productions